How to be a good loser: 4 ideas parents and kids can learn from Caitlin Clark, NCAA finals

Do you like to lose?

It’s official: losing stinks.

Check out the sad faces of Caitlin Clark and her Iowa friends as they lost to South Carolina in the NCAA women’s basketball final on Sunday. That’s how hard it can hit you. We watched it the same way Zach Edey walked off the court after Purdue lost to UConn in the men’s title game the next night: slowly and without any emotion.

Four things parents and kids can learn from Caitlin Clark about how to be a good loser
Four things parents and kids can learn from Caitlin Clark about how to be a good loser.

There was even that cool and steady Lisa Bluder who said it. When the Iowa coach talked about losing, her voice cracked, and she tried to hide how she felt by making jokes.

People asked her if the fact that she lost the last two finals to coaches Kim Mulkey and Dawn Staley, who had won a total of seven national titles, made her feel better.

There was even that cool and steady Lisa Bluder who said it. When the Iowa coach talked about losing, her voice cracked, and she tried to hide how she felt by making jokes.

People asked her if the fact that she lost the last two finals to coaches Kim Mulkey and Dawn Staley, who had won a total of seven national titles, made her feel better.

Basketball players and coaches showed us this week how healing it can be to lose something big if we let ourselves go with it. They can help us think about what we’ve done and push us towards our next goal, whether that’s the WNBA or another school game.

By looking at Clark and other athletes at Iowa and Purdue, we can see that younger athletes can also be “good” winners.

1. Don’t explain yourself. Recognising a loss is the first thing that needs to be done to get over it.

Yes, it’s smart to give praise to the team that beat you. The Purdue men and the Iowa women had to do this first. You have to watch the teams celebrate.

Let the loss sink in while you wait. Allow your anger to flow through you before you meet your opponents. Take some time to think about what went wrong and what you can do better next time. After that, go through the queue and tell the other team good job.

Even if you don’t feel better right away, these steps will help you get better and give you hope for the next time.

The UConn center’s eyes were still red when he spoke, minutes after his team lost 75–60. “

Donovan) Clingan’s a great player, but I just gotta play better,” Edey said of Clingan. “This is one of those games where I can’t have periods where I’m not good.” Today I had a few of those stretches, and that was the game.”

Edey was being too hard on himself. With 37 points and 10 boards, he set a new game high. The lesson is that he wasn’t putting on a show.

Someone can make an excuse, but so can a parent who wants to reassure or support their child.
You weren’t to blame.

Your team didn’t do enough to help.

Your teacher made things unfair for you.

Coaches, whether they’re in high school or trying to win the NCAA title, don’t like hearing excuses. In an interview with CBS before the men’s final, UConn’s Dan Hurley warned of what can happen if you keep making those mistakes.

He said, “We really focus on the parents for a lot of time.” “Are they going to be fans of their son or parents?” Do they expect that when something goes wrong, it’s not the coach’s fault? Would they hold them accountable? That they need to make their son work better, do more, and earn his role?

“When you talk to parents about recruiting, do they always complain about the coaches after a bad game? Or do they text you or tell you that their son needs to do more, play better, and work on his skills? They lie to each other. They give tips, and if you have the wrong kind of people close to your players, they’ll ruin your programme.

2. Don’t let a loss define who you are. Be who you are by how you handle it.

Being upset about losing is not the same as being a sore loser.

You throw your baseball glove, a basketball, and storm off to the parking lot without shaking hands with your opponents. You might also pick on a partner for making a mistake that could have cost you the game.

In the first, you accept what happened and feed yourself with it.

Last season, Purdue lost badly to No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson. In 2023 and 2024, Purdue was the top spot in the NCAA Tournament. Edey was the national player of the year and the team’s public face, so the loss hurt him a lot. But he got over that loss and used it to push himself all the way to the last game of the season.

Last year, Iowa’s women made it to the championship game but lost to LSU. This year, they went again, even though they lost two players who had started all three years.

After losing, both teams worked together and used the losses to encourage and inspire each other.
“We really do look out for each other,” Clark said. “We might not have always been the best.” We might not have always been the biggest. We might not have always been the best. But we only believed what we knew we were at the time. We had faith in each other.

Some wins might not be worth anything. They might have lost a game that you won because you didn’t play well or because they made a mistake.

It’s possible for some loses to mean more. If you lose again, ask yourself if you were happy with how hard you tried. You need to work on something for the next game if the answer is no.

If you said yes, you can feel good about yourself because you know you did everything you could to try to win.

Clark smiled when he talked about how big South Carolina is and how well they rebound (51-29). It wasn’t so much a sad smile as a happy one, because like Purdue, her team didn’t give up when they were down.

It was just “I’m proud of our group,” she said. “We didn’t give up, and you know, we gave it our all.”

You can accept that you lost to a better team, even though it’s hard.

Purdue coach Matt Painter said, “We’ve played against athletes and some really good defensive guys this year and in the tournament, but not a group of defensive players like UConn does.”

When we played someone, they’d have a back that blocked everything.” Lockdown guards are coming off the bench for these guys. Give them a tip of the hat.”

Then he turned to talk about Edey and shook his head.

Painter said, “I just told him in the locker room, ‘You’re not going to go on in life and push past here and not deal with anything bad.'” “There will be hard times in the workplace, in relationships, in everything. And he was better at dealing with problems.

3. Honour or remember your opponent in some way.

Like Edey, Purdue point guard Braden Smith gave UConn credit where credit was due, but he was still coming to terms with what his team couldn’t do when he met with the reporters.

In sports, some of the most intense people never get over losing. But when they think about their sports careers, moments are what they remember more than wins and losses. Things like your first home run or 3-pointer, or just the time you talked to a kid who was standing on first base. That kid might have become a good friend.

Or times like when UConn won and there was a queue to shake hands. Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star wrote that Hurley jumped on Smith to praise him.

During the national quarterfinals, DJ Burns (6 feet 8 inches) and Edey (7 feet 4 inches) slammed into each other. They smiled and joked around.

“Bro, please excuse my language, you big as hell,” Burns said he told Edey later. “I told him, ‘Hey, I’m going to figure you out, bro.'” “We had a funny moment.”

Edey later told Burns how good he was at the game.

When you lose next, try to remember a good part of the game. You don’t need to tell anyone about this moment. You can keep it to yourself and read it when you’re still upset about what happened.

We enjoy sports for what they’re worth, especially when we’re young, and we can’t always get that from wins and losses.

4. Trophies made of plastic look good. Team activities last a lifetime.

Take a moment to think about your sports journey the next time you lose.

Kate Martin, Iowa’s six-year guard, did that when Lily Goodwin, 9, who was writing for Cleveland radio station 95.9 FM after the South Carolina game, asked her a question.

Greatwin, whose stage name is DJ Lily Jade, asked, “What would you say to kids who are trying to be you right now?”

Martin’s eyes lit up as she said, “I used to sleep with an Iowa women’s basketball poster on my ceiling.” “I’m so thankful to be here, play for Coach Bluder, and help the team win back-to-back national titles.” I worked hard and had big dreams, which is why I got there. I’m not an all-American high school prospect with five stars. I was never. People had faith in me, and I had faith in myself. You can do it too if I can.”

We don’t have to go through what Martin and Iowa did to love sports. Bluder’s moving locker room speech after the game, which was shared on social media, was meant to show that journey.

It can also help us remember why we play sports.

Bluder said with a shaky voice, “I’m so proud of all of you guys. Don’t hang your heads.” “Joy the fact that we were here.” Enjoy the fact that we can do this together. Could you please? That’s the important thing.You do love a nice prize, but that doesn’t change the fact that you inspired young women to play this sport.

When Bluder cried, and people around her did too, it was more because their time as partners was over than because of the loss.

Clark told the crowd, “I need to take it all in and enjoy these last few moments with my teammates because they are some of my best friends.” “Forever, they’ll be my best friends.” That’s the most important thing to me.”

There will be good times and bad times in our sports jobs, just like in our real lives. Even Caitlin Clark can’t expect to win every game.

It was first published on USA TODAY as “How to be a good loser: 4 tips parents and kids can take from Caitlin Clark, NCAA finals

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